The Era of Experimentation
The adult trade business has had to endure many changes in recent years. E-books are seen as a business model alternative, but while they’ve been convenient for consumers, the adult trade revenues aren’t exactly astounding. Sure, mobile content could be a savior of the future, but right now it’s an experiment of the present. With all of that in mind, we look at the present of adult trade.
No Denying Technology
Brian Murray, group president of HarperCollins, says digital opportunities are growing, and the adult trade market is going to be dependent on how it’s able to grab the Web-browsing consumer. “The bookstore and library are at a ‘mature’ stage at this point, and we have to get the younger audience where they live—since that’s the computer, we need to use things like key word ad buys and search optimization for the Web,” he says.
Murray’s company even decided to put a book, “Go It Alone: The Secret to Building a Successful Business of Your Own,” online for free (www.BruceJudson.com), with revenue generated from ads. The book is also for sale at various retail outlets, however. For Murray, it was all about gathering information from the move, not profit. “The business book ‘Go It Alone!’ had over 50,000 unique visitors, and over half came from outside the U.S.—that was great to see. The ad income was only OK, but we didn’t know what to expect going in,” he says. “We won’t start doing this strategy with every single book, but it gave us a lot to think about in terms of learning and marketing. One thing we learned is that ads are still just ancillary revenue and not the major revenue stream. But maybe that could change in the future.”
For smaller publishers, there are advantages and disadvantages to technology: the Internet’s challenges may not be quite as daunting because the ‘little guy’ has always had to come up with alternative solutions anyway. However, e-books can shrink a pie that for the small businessperson was small enough to begin with. Debbie Allen, publisher of Hensonville, N.Y.-based Black Dome Press, says companies her size—Black Dome Press puts out five to six new books a year—have to be nimble in any outlet that can promote a book.